To diagnose rosacea, your dermatologist will examine your skin and your eyes. Your dermatologist will also ask questions. Before giving you a diagnosis, your dermatologist may want to make sure you don’t have another medical condition. Sometimes, another medical condition can look a lot like rosacea. Your dermatologist will want to rule out these conditions. Medical tests can help rule out conditions, such as lupus and an allergic skin reaction.
Types and Causes of Rosacea
Scientists are still trying to find out what causes rosacea. By studying rosacea, scientists have found some important clues:
- Rosacea runs in families. Many people who get rosacea have family members who have rosacea. It is possible that people inherit genes for rosacea.
- The immune system may play a role. Scientists found that most people with acne-like rosacea react to a bacterium (singular for bacteria) called bacillus oleronius. This reaction causes their immune system to overreact. Scientists still do not know whether this can cause rosacea.
- A bug that causes infections in the intestines may play a role. This bug, H pylori, is common in people who have rosacea. Scientists cannot prove that H pylori can cause rosacea. Many people who do not have rosacea have an H pylori infection.
- A mite that lives on everyone’s skin, demodex, may play a role. This mite likes to live on the nose and cheeks, and this is where rosacea often appears. Many studies found that people with rosacea have large numbers of this mite on their skin. The problem is some people who do not have rosacea also have large numbers of this mite on their skin.
- A protein that normally protects the skin from infection, cathelicidin, may cause the redness and swelling. How the body processes this protein may determine whether a person gets rosacea.
Treatment Options for Rosacea
If you have rosacea, your dermatologist can talk with you about treatment options. While treatment cannot cure rosacea, it can help:
- Reduce (or eliminate) signs of rosacea on your skin
- Ease your discomfort
- Prevent rosacea from worsening
How do dermatologists treat rosacea?
To give you the best results, treatment often begins with a bit of education. While medicine or laser treatment can help reduce or clear signs of rosacea, your everyday habits may cause a new flare-up.
Learning how to do the following can help reduce flare-ups:
(1) Find your triggers. Many things you do can cause rosacea to flare. Dermatologists call these “triggers.”
Common triggers for rosacea include becoming overheated, having cold wind blowing on your face, and eating spicy foods. These may — or may not — cause your rosacea to flare. People have different triggers.
It’s important to find out what causes your rosacea to flare and avoid those triggers.
(2) Think sun protection 24/7. People who have rosacea often find that their skin is quite sensitive to the sun. To protect your skin from the sun, you’ll want to:
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF 30 (or higher) every day before you head outdoors
- Avoid the midday sun
- Seek shade when outdoors
- Slip on a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors to protect your face and neck from the sun
- Wear sun-protective clothing and sunglasses
(3) Practice rosacea friendly skin care. Many skin care products can irritate skin with rosacea. Some skin care habits, such as scrubbing your skin clean, can cause rosacea to flare. Using mild skin care products and being gentle with your skin can help prevent flare-ups. If you have trouble finding mild skin care products, ask your dermatologist for recommendations. The rest of your treatment plan will be tailored to treating your rosacea.